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Originally published March 30, 2011 at 7:39 AM | Page modified March 30, 2011 at 7:50 AM

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Facebook reunites Marysville choir in song

The power of the social network can kick-start a revolution, inspire an Academy-Award winning movie and ignite old flames.

The Daily Herald

EVERETT, Wash. —

The power of the social network can kick-start a revolution, inspire an Academy-Award winning movie and ignite old flames.

In Marysville, Facebook created a choir.

It all started with Lakey Malan, a 1997 graduate of Marysville-Pilchuck High School, who was talking to a friend one day, trying to remember some details about a song the high school choir performed 15 years ago.

Just for the heck of it, Malan decided to go online and see if anybody remembered the song.

Bam. That's all it took.

"Within about 10 minutes, I had a big long thread of comments," Malan said.

From that point, Malan said the Facebook chatter turned to tracking down former Marysville-Pilchuck High School choir members from 1991 to 2004.

"And the thing just exploded," Malan said. "I got hundreds of responses from all over."

In a week, the former choir students organized a reunion -- not virtual but real -- that was held in November 2009. That reunion included a cyber-connection to a Marine Corps base in Okinawa so former choir member Darren Di Marco could participate via a laptop on a music stand.

During the reunion it was clear that the former choir students didn't want their singing to end but to begin again.

"Before we knew it, we were saying we have to keep doing this," Malan said.

By the end of December, a database exceeding 300 people was amassed, and the Northern Sound Choirs was launched.

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Now, the Northern Sound Choirs - also known as the Sonus Boreal Northern Sound Choirs - is holding a spring concert May 22, and they are also planning a regional tour in June.

Northern Sound Choirs conductor and artistic director Stuart Hunt said it was "the click of a computer mouse that opened a new chapter of joy and fulfillment."

On a recent evening laughter resounded off the walls of the Marysville Church of the Nazarene as 30 choir members rehearsed.

Malan said during a rehearsal break that Facebook's far-reaching power did indeed reunite the former students. But Hunt's role as conductor is what made the Internet traffic go wacky.

In fact, there's a fan page that spawned from all this called "The Legacy of Stuart Hunt" that has a "like" list of 457 fans.

"When Facebook started, the floodgates opened," Malan said. "For me, Stuart was one of the most influential men in my life, and I know if he hadn't been there, I would have turned out totally different."

Choir member Loren Jenkins is a mother of two sons who were both members of Hunt's Marysville-Pilchuck High School choir. She credits Hunt with helping to make her sons successful adults.

"You don't have a choir if you don't have a good leader," said Jenkins, who has been singing in choirs since she was a kid. "He brings joy."

Jenkins, 56, is a graduate of Anacortes High School. She had been looking for a choir to join and when she heard Hunt was back in the game, she knew she had found her spot.

"I wanted something more meaty," Jenkins said. "His list of music, the variety, it's huge and it grabbed me."

Choir member Michelle Rogers, 28, agreed about Hunt's passion and skill set.

"We only have a rehearsal every three Mondays out of the month, but we sing like we've had a rehearsal every day," Rogers said.

In high school back in the 1960s, Hunt played in band and in the last three months of his senior year he was invited to sing in the choir. Hunt was hooked.

This is Hunt's 40th year conducting choirs, both public and private. He spent 18 years with the Quincy School District in eastern Washington and also conducted the Seattle Girls' Choir for 15 years.

The irony for Hunt about the birth of Northern Sound Choirs is that he "reluctantly joined the Facebook phenomenon."

"Our pastor told me, `It's not about you,'" Hunt said.

No, it's about the music.

As Jenkins said, "The choir's future is limitless."

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Information from: The Daily Herald, http://www.heraldnet.com

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